Jayman777 and the first cause argument (Blogathon 43/49)

Jayman777 disagreed with my analysis of the first cause argument earlier.

In the case of the first cosmological argument quoted by Christina, it is because matter (and the laws governing it) are contingent. In the case of the kalam cosmological argument, it is because matter (and the laws governing it) began to exist.

First, not true.  See virtual particles.

Second, even if that was true, how does that change the argument?  If you think something can either always exist or spontaneously exist, why not matter?  You can’t establish those rules and then ignore them.

If you’re going to say “god always existed” but that matter didn’t, you don’t know that second part.  We have a variety of working hypotheses for what could’ve pre-dated the Big Bang.  If you believe something could always exist, why not matter?  We know matter exists.  There is not good evidence for a god (certainly far, far less than for matter).

[The theist] is saying a necessary being need not have a cause while a contingent being does need a cause.

You can’t just define god as necessary and call that proof of his existence.

Or he is saying that a being who did not begin to exist does not need a cause while a being that began to exist does need a cause. There is no contradiction in these beliefs.

So he can admit something could always exist?  Awesome!  I say it’s matter and the laws of physics.  We know those exist.

So he admits things can’t begin to exist spontaneously?  Awesome!  God couldn’t have existed this way.

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  • John Horstman

    Yeah, again, the first cause argument simply functions to refute at least one of its premises (assuming we accept that either a god must exist or must not exist: since both cases require invalidation of at least one premise, we can say with certainty that at least one of the premises is false).

  • http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com jayman777

    First, not true. See virtual particles.

    How does that help you? Virtual particles begin to exist and are therefore contingent. You might reply that virtual particles are uncaused but this is not true for their existence is conditioned on the existence of vacuum fluctuations.

    Second, even if that was true, how does that change the argument? If you think something can either always exist or spontaneously exist, why not matter? You can’t establish those rules and then ignore them.

    No one is proposing that something can spontaneously come into existence (uncaused) so we can cross that objection off the list. Thus we can rephrase your question: if you think something can always exist, why not matter? Because we observe matter coming into and going out of existence (not just at the Big Bang but in the present too).

    If you’re going to say “god always existed” but that matter didn’t, you don’t know that second part. We have a variety of working hypotheses for what could’ve pre-dated the Big Bang. If you believe something could always exist, why not matter? We know matter exists. There is not good evidence for a god (certainly far, far less than for matter).

    Appeals to a multi-verse or anything else before the Big Bang merely move the question back a level. The kalam cosmological argument contains philosphical arguments for why the past cannot be infinite (note God technically existed in a timeless state “prior” to creation and thus does not contradict this argument). Moreover, other cosmological arguments can grant, for the sake of argument, that the universe/matter is eternal and still prove God’s existence so this move gives the atheist no shelter.

    You can’t just define god as necessary and call that proof of his existence.

    That’s a self-serving over-simplification of the argument. No one is saying a mere definition is a proof. The Leibnizian cosmological argument proves the existence of a necessary being. This necessary being can be called God for, whatever else God is traditionally thought to be, he is thought to be a necessary being who creates and/or sustains the universe.

    So he can admit something could always exist? Awesome! I say it’s matter and the laws of physics. We know those exist.

    Technically the First Cause would have to have existed timelessly before the creation of time. Matter undergoes change and therefore could not be timeless. The laws of physics are abstract entities. If they existed foroever then perhaps they existed in an Eternal Mind, but that’s too theistic for your tastes.

    So he admits things can’t begin to exist spontaneously? Awesome! God couldn’t have existed this way.

    If God did not begin to exist then he could not begin to exist spontaneously.


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